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Archive for December, 2013

The Architecture of Life (part 3): The Boundaries of Infinity

English: Deutsch:

My husband and I recently spent an evening watching, once again, the DVD Black Wholes, featuring the ideas of Nassim Haramein. Early on Haramein describes the concept of a “bounded infinity”.  Sounds like an oxymoron.  Infinity is, after all, infinity, and something that is bounded is clearly limited, so how could the two exist together?   Ahh, but they do!  In fact, we are each a bounded infinity living in a Universe of bounded infinities.

Haramein uses the simplest tools of
geometry to demonstrate the idea. Draw a circle on a piece of paper.
Inscribe a square into the circle, letting its 4 corners touch the
sides, or boundary, of the circle. Inscribe a new circle inside the
square, and a new square inside this smaller circle, and a new
square, and a new circle…. Eventually, you’ll need a magnifying
glass, and then a microscope, as well as finer and finer pencil tips,
but this inscribing of squares into circles can go on forever, into
infinity, without ever breaking the original boundary of the circle.circles-and-squares

The mathematics of fractals
demonstrates this concept at a more complex level. The Mandelbrot
Set
is the name of a definable shape, and yet any close examination
of its edges leads into a dazzling array of repeating shapes and
forms that include miniature versions of the original Mandelbrot
shape. In this case, the bounded edge is also the infinite edge.
Mathematically, there is no limit to this process.  The ability to
perceive the increasing fineness of detail is the only “limit”.

I look around this world now,
understanding that everything I look on is a bounded infinity, a
defined space connected to the infinite. Think of the bounding
nature of your skin, defining a body containing trillions of human
cells, hundreds of trillions of bacteria, uncountable numbers of
molecules, unimaginable numbers of atoms, and then even more quarks
and bosons and other subatomic particles. Add to all this the
infinity of the spaces between each atomic nucleus and it’s
electrons, and now you begin to remember how truly vast you are.
This is how the infinity of life is “contained” in vessels such
as cells and bacteria and rocks and multicellular organisms such as
ourselves.

Bounded Infinity. The tensegrity of
this dichotomy may be the foundation that drives the Universe, the
basis for the push-pull network of relationships and connections that
creates stars and planets, galaxies and universes. We see this
tensegrity reflected in the bi-polar nature of water and in the
cytoskeleton of our cells, and in the very human realm of male-female
relationships creating a species. This concept of tensegrity could
be the perception that allows us to live in a duality and embrace the
Wholeness of it. The secret to both the stability and the
ever-evolving, changing nature of our planet.

I look now at the fence that defines
the growing area I call Bluebird Farm. Here is a boundary, a
defining line, a semi-permeable membrane, but inside that fence lies
an infinity whose potential and productive capacity is as unlimited
as my imagination.

The Architecture of Life (Part 2): Water

IMG_2503Water doesn’t follow the rules. It’s an anomaly. The one that walks to the beat of its own drum. Designed to break the mold, to forge new pathways, to boldly go where no molecule had gone before. (Isn’t it nice to know where that instinct to be yourself comes from?)  If water followed the pattern of the other molecules in its family group (i.e. hydrogen sulfide, H2 S, hydrogen selenide, H2Se, hydrogen telluride, H2Te), then the boiling point of H2O would be -80°C (-112°F). Earth would likely be covered in water vapor, and we would have a better idea of what life on Venus is like. However, instead of H2O, we are blessed with a more complex creature, Water, whose boiling point is a robust 100°C or 212°F.

 

The anomalous behavior of water – and there are at least 67 anomalies according to Martin Chaplin of London’s South Bank University – is attributed to its shape, its geometry, its architecture. Water is asymmetric. The fat oxygen doesn’t hold the two hydrogen out at right angles, one on either side. It’s more like an adult holding hands with 2 children as they whirl in a circle. The angle between the hydrogen/children being most commonly in the range of 104° to 105°

 

I like this image of spinning, playful people because that is part of water’s nature: to spin, to spiral. You will never see water marching soldier-like down a stream or river bed. Always, there will be some twirling and whirling, even if it is minute. Water loves to play. It loves the spiral. It is the child within, yet a child whose organizing skills are “gi-normous”, to quote an 8-year-old friend.

 

Icosahedron

This organizing capacity of water is also a result of its shape, its architecture, for water can maintain a crystalline form in its liquid state as well as in its solid form of ice. That wide, V-shaped, 104° bond creates a magnet-like molecule with the oxygen heavy end being positively charged and the double hydrogen end being negatively charged, creating attraction between molecules as well as within them. Not all liquid water is crystalline in nature, depending on its exposure to pollutants and other factors including temperature, but some researchers describe tetrahedral structures within liquid water, while others describe super clusters of 280-molecule interlocking icosahedra. In ancient times, the icosahedron was associated with the qualities of personal transformation, sexuality, and emotions – all qualities of the watery domain.

 

The crystalline nature of water in important for two reasons. One, it’s essential to water’s information holding capacity, most eloquently pictured in the work of Masaru Emoto.  More intriguing, however, is its relevance to the blurry line forming on the scientific horizon around the question of what is “alive” and what is “dead”.  In Secrets of the Cells, Sondra Barrett spoke eloquently of our cells as containers for life and for life energy. These cells are increasingly being described in terms of crystals, or, more specifically, as liquid crystals. Water is also a liquid crystal.

 

 

This snowflake has the dihedral symmetry of a ...

In the 1920’s, scientist Henry Coanda discovered that the center of every snowflake contained a tiny circulatory system with unfrozen, liquid water flowing through tubes much as sap flows in a plant or as blood flows in animals. The healthier and more energized the water from which the snowflake had formed, the longer this circulatory system operated. An increasing number of water researchers are noticing other self-organizing qualities in water that raise the question: Is water a living organism?

 

Given that we inhabit a quantum universe whose very fabric is intimately entwined with consciousness, it is clear to me that everything is alive – composed of some form or level of awareness, that is.  The line between biological life and everything else seems to be drawn in water.  This most precious and uncanny of substances.

 

 

 

 

The Architecture of Life (Part 1): Cells

Cells stained for keratin and DNA: such parts ...

I had never given much thought to the architecture of cells. They were just rounded and blob-like critters, about a trillion of which somehow manage to be this body. Clearly, they are important as the home of the magnificently organized, double-helix DNA and as the mediators of our complex, internal ecosystems, and yet they never seemed very real to me in their own right.

Then, over the summer, I read a book by Sondra Barrett called Secrets of Your Cells. It’s a book I would highly recommend, with the stand-out chapter for me being “The Fabric of Life-Choose.” While Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief) has described the membrane, the outer skin of the cell, as the true cellular brain, according to Barrett, further research now suggests that the internal scaffolding, or cytoskeleton, of each cell is the organizing and decision-making brain.

Bucky's Geodesic Dome

Bucky’s Geodesic Dome (Photo credit: sofafort)

Cells are not just rounded blobs. They are finely organized, tensegrity structures. Tensegrity is a word coined by Buckminster Fuller to describe situations where pushing and pulling forces have a win-win, balanced relationship. His famous geodesic domes are tensegrity structures and are considered among the most stable of human constructions.

The scaffolding of our cells operates on tensegrity principles. If you take that cellular blob and imagine it infused with an array of crisscrossing spiderweb patterns, you are beginning to see the cytoskeleton. Made up of microtubules and different lengths of microfilaments, a push or a pull on this skeletal fabric is all that is needed to send a signal, to send information, coursing through the cell as the rest of the cytoskeleton adjusts to the change in tension. The movement of each tubule and filament coordinates a dance that directs, manages, and coordinates cellular behavior. Each piece of this web has the power to alter genetic expression – and to alter the capabilities of the cell.

Our cells are true shape-shifters. As they stiffen or relax, these changes affect what the cell can do. Stretching out with maximum tension is a signal to reproduce. Balled up with little tension is a signal to relax into death. An in-between tension, a supremely balanced level of tensegrity, is the mark of a mature cell, one that is carrying out its body ecosystem function, say detoxifying substances in the case of a liver cell or producing antibodies in the case of an immune system cell.

I have experienced in my own life how shape – or posture – can change things. Curling the shoulders forward, bringing the head down, contracting the front of the body inward, elicits some immediate changes in overall emotional tone. It takes more effort to find bright and cheery thoughts. Rolling the shoulders back and down, bringing the head up with chin parallel to the ground, letting gravity pull down on the tailbone while levity pulls up on the crown of the head, creates a reverse trend in emotional tone. A relatively small effort brings on optimism and even joy. If you’ve never experimented with this, try it.

The essence of all this for me is that shape is a powerful carrier and transmitter of information, but not just information, I think of meaning as well. The shaping of information is a big part of what our cells are engaged in on a moment-to-moment basis. I am also reminded of the use of the term “gesture” by practitioners of biodyanmics when they speak of the shape or form of a plant. Oaks and pines are both trees, engaged in photosynthesis, soil-building and water-harvesting, and yet the very different shapes they take speaks volumes about the different energies these trees carry, one very motherly and the other very fatherly.

Since taking in this cellular wisdom, it seems that every book I am drawn to, every film I see, makes some reference to shape, structure, or geometry and to the meaning embedded there. The picture of a living, related Universe gains depth and breadth. Next week, I think I’ll be talking about water.